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Rifted margins: Ductile deformation, boudinage, continentward-dipping normal faults and the role of the weak lower crust

Camille Clerc 1 Jean-Claude Ringenbach 2 Laurent Jolivet 3, 4 Jean-François Ballard 2
4 Géodynamique - UMR7327
INSU - CNRS - Institut national des sciences de l'Univers, UO - Université d'Orléans : UMR7327, BRGM - Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières (BRGM), ISTO - Institut des Sciences de la Terre d'Orléans - UMR7327 : UMR7327
Abstract : The stunningly increased resolution of the deep crustal levels in recent industrial seismic profiles acquired along most of the world's rifted margins leads to the unraveling of an unexpected variety of structures. It provides unprecedented access to the processes occurring in the middle and lower continental crust. We present a series of so far unreleased profiles that allows the identification of various rift-related geological processes such as crustal boudinage, ductile shear and low-angle detachment faulting, and a rifting history that differs from the classical models of oceanward-dipping normal faults. The lower crust in rifted margins appears much more intensely deformed than usually represented. At the foot of both magma-rich and magma-poor margins, we observe clear indications of ductile deformation of the deep continental crust along large-scale shallow dipping shear zones. These shear zones generally show a top-to-the-continent sense of shear consistent with the activity of Continentward Dipping Normal Faults (CDNF) observed in the upper crust. This pattern is responsible for a migration of the deformation and associated sedimentation and/or volcanic activity toward the ocean. We discuss the origin of these CDNF and investigate their implications and the effect of sediment thermal blanketing on crustal rheology. In some cases, low-angle shear zones define an anastomosed pattern that delineates boudin-like structures. The maximum deformation is localized in the inter-boudin areas. The upper crust is intensely boudinaged and the highly deformed lower crust fills the inter-boudins underneath. The boudinage pattern controls the position and dip of upper crustal normal faults. We present some of the most striking examples from the margins of Uruguay, West Africa, South China Sea and Barents Sea, and discuss their implications for the time-temperature history of the margins.
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Camille Clerc, Jean-Claude Ringenbach, Laurent Jolivet, Jean-François Ballard. Rifted margins: Ductile deformation, boudinage, continentward-dipping normal faults and the role of the weak lower crust. Gondwana Research, Elsevier, 2018, 53, pp.20-40. ⟨10.1016/j.gr.2017.04.030⟩. ⟨insu-01522472⟩

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